The Engel-Primrose Assessment of Spiritual Growth

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How to measure Progress

It is true that only God can know where a person is in their walk before Him, and He has admonished us not to judge, but John Bunyan was not alone in wanting to measure a "Pilgrim's Progress"[1][1]. There are many good reasons why we would want to measure the spiritual maturity of a person or group. Are they sufficiently advanced as to be put into positions of spiritual leadership? Comparing where they are now to where they were last year, and assuming we had some part in that transition, are we doing an adequate job? Wouldn't knowing where various persons of a class are on their spiritual journey have some effect on how we direct our instruction? So it becomes important to find some way of measuring spiritual maturity.

Work of Engel and Norton

In 1975 Engel and Norton published[2] a scale that he proposed could be used to measure spiritual progress. His scale has 8 steps leading to salvation and 3 steps beyond. It appears to be a good measure of evangelistic effort since it measures more precisely the steps leading up to salvation. Their contention was that these steps did not happen overnight, but were a progression of successive steps that eventually lead to salvation.

The scale is as follows:

-7 Initial awareness of the gospel
-6 Awareness of the fundamentals of the gospel
-5 Grasp the implications of the gospel
-4 Positive attitude toward the gospel
-3 Personal problem recognition
-2 Decision to act
-1 Repentance and faith in Christ
+0 The person is born again, and becomes a new creation in Christ
+1 Post decision evaluation
+2 Incorporation into a local body of Christ
+3 A lifetime of conceptual and behavioral growth in Christ

Haggard's Emphasis

Ted Haggard, in his book[3] "Dog Training, Fly Fishing, and Sharing Christ devotes much of chapter 2 to disciplining and every stage and quotes what he refers to as the Engel scale as a measure of this progress.

Primroses' Contribution

About the same time as Engles and Norton published their scale of evaluation, Dr. Robert Primrose was wrestling with this same problem from a different direction. How do you discipleize effectively with people who are not literate? As he taught African students at Daystar University in Nairobi, Kenya the same problem of measuring spiritual progress emerged. In his publication[4] Primrose developed an 18 point scale that listed 2 steps prior to salvation and 15 steps that measure progress in discipilizing beyond conversion. Although it is not the same kind of linear progression the Primrose scale is a more sensitive means of measuring spiritual progress and discipleship training beyond conversion. He would contend that instead of being a sequence, it is more of a cumulative composite in that all of the steps are important even if they can be done in parallel and not totally in sequence. There does seem to be a definite progression in maturity as you ascend the scale.

The Primrose scale is as follows:

  1. Attend Attend Worship service regularly.
  2. Receptive Is receptive to teaching. Is able to listen and understand the teaching.
  3. Confess Confesses and continues to confess failures, shortcomings, and sins.
  4. Sacraments Participates in the Sacraments.
  5. Pray Prays about problems. Identifies areas of concern and takes a portion of them to God in prayer.
  6. Seeks Fellowship Seeks out the fellowship of other Christian believers.
  7. Tithes Contributes a tithe of their increase.
  8. Gives God Thanks Is able to give thanks to God from within difficult situations.
  9. Stores Word Studies and stores the w\Word of God.
  10. Testifies Is able to share God's workings in a testimony.
  11. Praise Is able to praise God openly.
  12. Prayer Time Has a regular daily prayer time.
  13. Offerings Gives to the needs of others beyond tithes.
  14. Serve Willing to serve and act in s leadership capacity as a servant.
  15. Worship Take an active part in corporate Worship.
  16. Develop Gifts Seeks to develop the Gifts of the Spirit.
  17. Intercessor Demonstrates intercessory prayer.
  18. Looks forward to Heaven Anticipates Heaven.

Comparisons of the Scales

In the use of either of these scales it is very important to not appear judgmental, only evaluative. It is important not to embarrass the student in any way. But it is one of the few ways we have of measuring or evaluating progress.

The Primrose scale is probably not as sequential as the Engle scale, meaning some of the steps may be done in parallel and not in sequence, but all of the steps are admittadly important. The Engle scale is probably a more sensitive measure (having more check points) of the progress of a person to salvation and therefore a measure of an evangelistic effort. The Primrose scale has more check points from salvation on and therefore is a more sensitive measure of the students progress from salvation on. The Primrose is admittedly not event specific, not listing salvation or baptism, but salvation would be somewhere between steps 2 and 3, and baptism happening eventually as part of step 4.

Teaching for Results

In a paper submitted to Advance magazine of the Assemblies of God Dr. Russell Primrose[5] proposed using a progressive scale as a means of evaluating the maturity average of a class, and therefore directing the instruction level to that point. You assume that as a student progresses they score high on a scale of 1-10 on each of the scale steps until they reach where they are in their present maturity. At that point their performance starts to fall off because that is where they are presently battling and they have not conquered it yet. When you average these numbers for the whole class for each of the steps you should see a progression from higher numbers, that then start to fall off at some point along the scale, meaning that most of the class have not gotten past this point yet. That becomes the point toward which the class instruction should be directed. That step or a series of steps that score about the same would represent where the average of your students are wrestling in their everyday lives, and should provide the teacher guidance as to where the instruction should be directed.

A Combined Scale

There is a temptation to take the better parts of both scales and combine them. We would then have one scale that could be used effectively at either the evangelistic end or the discipleship end.

If we consider the Great Commission in Matthew 28 we will note that after a person is willing to "go", there are three things they are asked to do: They are to make disciples (Evangelize), to baptize, and to teach (make disciples). It appears that the Engle scale covers the evangelizing requirements, and the Primrose addition covers the spiritual development of making disciples so that the pivot point would b e the command to baptize. Such a proposed scale might look like this:


-7 Initial Awareness Initial awareness of the gospel
-6 Aware of Fundamentals Awareness of the fundamentals of the gospel
-5 Grasp Implications Grasp the implications of the gospel
-4 Positive Attitude Positive attitude toward the gospel
-3 Recognize Problem Personal problem recognition
-2 Decision Decision to act
-1 Repent Repentance and faith in Christ
0 Born Again The person is born again, and becomes a new creation in Christ
1 Confess Confesses and continues to confess failures, shortcomings, and sins.
2 Sacraments Participates in the Sacraments.
3 Pray Prays about problems. Identifies areas of concern and takes a portion of them to God in prayer.
4 Seeks Fellowship Seeks out the fellowship of other Christian believers.
5 Tithes Contributes a tithe of their increase.
6 Gives God Thanks Is able to give thanks to God from within difficult situations.
7 Stores Word Studies and stores the w\Word of God.
8 Testifies Is able to share God's workings in a testimony.
9 Praise Is able to praise God openly.
10 Prayer Time Has a regular daily prayer time.
11 Offerings Gives to the needs of others beyond tithes.
12 Serve Willing to serve and act in s leadership capacity as a servant.
13 Worship Take an active part in corporate Worship.
14 Develop Gifts Seeks to develop the Gifts of the Spirit.
15 Intercessor Demonstrates intercessory prayer.
16 Looks forward to Heaven Anticipates Heaven.

Courses of Study

This 24 step scale should be useful for assessment of a student's maturity and thus direct the needed instruction and not be used for judgment or criticism of a student's maturity at the moment. it should allow the teacher to better direct the teaching for more effective, more accurate results. As we look closely we see some progressively repetitive areas that should probably be presented as a sequence of study, the more basic being prerequisite for the more advanced.

As a student is evolving through discipleship development it is obvious that different levels of difficulty or challenge will be encountered. We have selected the college-level nomenclature of 100-level courses being used for entry-level or freshman level of difficulty, and 400-level being of advanced or senior-level difficulty.The Engle-Primrose scale of personal development lists some seven steps leading to conversion and baptism (Evangelism) and about 14 steps leading from baptism (Development) complying with Matt. 28:19-20 (The Great Commission) which tells us after we "Go" we are to make disciples (Evangelism), baptize, and make teachers (Development). If we take the 14 steps leading from baptism on the Engle-Primrose scale we might put them into the following sequence: You will note that the numbers on some of the headings correspond with the number of that step on the Engle-Primrose scale. Those without numbers were not on the scale.

A Possible Curriculum

‘’’Discipleship Development’’’
100 200 300 400
* * * *
* *10. Prayer Time * *15. Intersession
* * * *
* 3. Pray * 6. Give Thanks * 9. Praise *
* * *Seek Holy Spirit *13. Worship
* * * *
* 7. Store God's Word * 8. Testify * 12. Serve * 14. Develop Gifts
* *4. Seeks Fellowship * *
* * * *
* *5. Tithe *11. Offerings *


A MindMap

References

  1. Bunyan, John, 1628-1688;"Pilgrim's Progressfrom this world to that which is to come"
  2. Engel, James and Wilbert H. Norton;"What's Gone Wrong with the Harvest? p45, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, 1975
  3. Haggard, Ted;"Dog Training, Fly Fishing, & Sharing Christ in the 21st Century Chap 2, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, 2002
  4. Primrose, Robert A.;Discipling Non-literates: A study Report Daystar Communications, PO Box 44400, Kenya, 18 June 1976, pp 14-15
  5. Primrose, Russell A.;Teaching for Results submitted, accepted, but not published Advance Magazine Assemblies of God, 1984
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